CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF AUNT CHEE-CHEE

Sometimes after I give lecture or conduct a workshop, people ask me, “What inspires you?” Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you that the foundation of who I am and the catalyst for my work actually began in 1919 with the arrival of a tour de force, whose given name was Alzora Rhea Goodrum Simmons. My sisters and I, along with all … Continue reading CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF AUNT CHEE-CHEE

National Theatre Conference Expands Efforts to Diversify Leadership

The National Theatre Conference (NTC) is a not-for-profit organization made up of distinguished members of the American Theatre Community. Established in 1925, its mission includes: Exploring the means to best serve the interests of the American Theatre, and to initiate, encourage, and support projects of value and significance with a view towards strengthening and broadening the influence of theatre in our country. Bringing the membership … Continue reading National Theatre Conference Expands Efforts to Diversify Leadership

Saving Youth Arts Programs

In August of last year, I wrote a blog about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Awards, the nation’s highest award for after-school and in-school arts and humanities programs. The program was celebrating 20 years of providing funding and recognition to the nation’s best programs, primarily in underserved urban and rural communities. These programs provided youth with a broad array of opportunities—ranging from self-discovery … Continue reading Saving Youth Arts Programs

The Right to be Innovative: A Panel Discussion at APAP

I had the opportunity to moderate a very important panel last week at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference in New York. The genesis of the panel was a troubling New York Times review published May 31, 2017, about a DanceAfrica performance. The theme of the program was “The Healing Light of Rhythm: Tradition and Beyond.” The Times’ headlined its “bittersweet” review: “DanceAfrica … Continue reading The Right to be Innovative: A Panel Discussion at APAP

Celebrating the March on Washington Film Festival, An Interview with Isisara Bey

   Isisara Bey serves as Artistic Director of the March on Washington Film Festival (MOWFF). The annual, week-long festival, which is held in the nation’s capital, features Civil Rights-themed short, documentary and narrative films, first-person accounts, panels, performing arts and sponsors student filmmaker and journalist competitions. The MOWFF was established in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and … Continue reading Celebrating the March on Washington Film Festival, An Interview with Isisara Bey

Shaping Cultural Identity with the Najwa Dance Corps

  In 1977, my two sisters and I became founding members of Najwa Dance Corps (NDC) in Chicago. We were so excited to be a part of something new that carried forward for future generations African American culture through dance, engaging new audiences, as well as teaching dance on Chicago’s West Side. Najwa I and her dance partner, the late Julian Swain, in whose company … Continue reading Shaping Cultural Identity with the Najwa Dance Corps

What Are Your Goals for 2018?

So far, Congress has resisted calls to cut the federal funding for the humanities and arts. But this is no time for complacency. We can rest assured that this fight is far from over. That’s why I’m making plans now for what I intend to accomplish in 2018 so that my ongoing work to make the arts accessible to all will not become, like the … Continue reading What Are Your Goals for 2018?

Our Power for Peace: Happy Holidays from Donna Walker-Kuhne

   Thank you so much for reading, supporting, following and commenting on my Arts and Culture Connection blog. I have been encouraged and empowered by your feedback. Let’s continue our exchange in the New Year.  As my holiday gift to all of you, I am sharing an excerpt from the book Hope in a Dark Time–Reflections on Humanity’s Future. One of the best essays is … Continue reading Our Power for Peace: Happy Holidays from Donna Walker-Kuhne

Interview with Eric Freeman: Building Bridges in the Neighborhood to Expand Access to the Arts

My first contact with Eric Freeman, co-founder of the Jewish Museum of New Jersey JMNJ), was a telephone call inviting New Jersey Performing Arts Center President (NJPAC) and CEO John Schreiber and me to a meeting. We met at the museum, which is located at Congregation Ahavas Sholom Synagogue. The synagogue is both a New Jersey and national landmark, and the oldest, continuously active synagogue … Continue reading Interview with Eric Freeman: Building Bridges in the Neighborhood to Expand Access to the Arts

Sharing Culture to Build Friendship and Unity A Conversation with 19-year-old Julia Wijesinghe, founder of the Sri Lankan Museum

  I first met Julia Wijesinghe, the founder of the Sri Lankan Museum, through my company’s work with Staten Island Arts. The Sri Lankan Museum is one of Staten Island Arts’ constituent organizations. Julia’s personal experience growing up in New York City was the catalyst for the museum’s establishment. She said: “Sometimes strangers would say, ‘You must be from India.’ But I tell them I’m … Continue reading Sharing Culture to Build Friendship and Unity A Conversation with 19-year-old Julia Wijesinghe, founder of the Sri Lankan Museum